In a major step forward for our nation’s health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called for more research on 100 illnesses in its new report, issued today, “The Initial National Priorities for Comparative Effectiveness Research.” This call to action comes on the heels of a $1.1 billion appropriation by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for research that will help health care providers and patients determine their best treatment options.
After centuries of medical advances, we still don’t know nearly enough about which medical treatments are most effective for which ailments. And what we do know isn’t disseminated to medical professionals quickly or broadly enough. In fact, a typical medical advancement can take up to 17 years before doctors routinely incorporate it into the way they practice medicine, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The IOM report, the first of its kind, is a major step toward improving health care quality and efficiency by learning what treatments are most effective and disseminating that information to providers.
Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families and co-chair of the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project said, “We commend the IOM for defining comparative effectiveness research (CER) in a way that is patient-centered and for emphasizing the need to compare not only treatments, but methods of prevention, diagnosis, monitoring, and improving the delivery of care. We strongly support its focus on eliminating disparities by emphasizing the need for research on people of diverse ages, races and ethnicities, and who are diverse in other ways.”
Adding from an employer’s perspective, Peter V. Lee, Executive Director, National Health Policy for the Pacific Business Group on Health, and co-chair of the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project, says “We see this report as the starting line and not the finish line in an effort to giving all Americans the information they need on what works in health care. To be truly successful we will need to build upon the one-time funding provided by the ARRA stimulus package, and establish an ongoing investment to ensure that all Americans and their doctors can know what the right care for their condition is.”
Peter V. Lee is Executive Director, National Health Policy, Pacific Business Group on Health, representing companies that buy health insurance for employees.
Debra L. Ness is President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, representing consumers.